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Agenda item

19/00676/OUT - Part Parcel 9851, Maisemore

PROPOSAL: Outline application for the erection of up to 33 residential units (50% affordable provision) with associated infrastructure and landscaping (all matters reserved for future consideration).

 

OFFICER RECOMMENDATION: Delegated Permit

Minutes:

66.2          This was an outline application for the erection of up to 33 residential units (50% affordable provision) with associated infrastructure and landscaping (all matters reserved for future consideration). 

66.3          The Planning Officer advised that the application site extended to approximately 1.68 hectares and comprised the eastern part of a large field located to the west of the built up areas of Maisemore village.  The site was outside of, but immediately to the west of, the proposed extended boundary settlement for Maisemore in the emerging Tewkesbury Borough Plan.  The site comprised grassland/formerly agricultural use and was not subject to any landscape designations.  The A417 bounded the site to the south and a row of established Poplar trees lined the boundary of the site with the A417.  Whilst all matters were reserved for future consideration, the applicant had provided an illustrative masterplan which indicated the likely characteristics of the development; the plan showed the dwellings located centrally within the site with the existing Poplar trees retained and pollarded and an area of landscaping created to the west of the dwellings.  There was an opportunity to create a new footpath linking the application site to Old Road to the north.  Although a reserved matter, the illustrative masterplan showed that access was proposed via the existing access off the A417 serving the Bell House Farm development.  With regard to the principle of development, the application site was located in open countryside, outside of the defined settlement boundary and was not allocated for housing development.  As such, the proposal conflicted with Policies SP2 and SD10 of the Joint Core Strategy; however, the application site was not within an isolated rural location and future residents would have access to services in Maisemore as well as Gloucester, although there would be some reliance on cars.  As Members would be aware, the Council could not currently demonstrate a five year supply of deliverable housing land and planning permission should be granted unless any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed against the policies of the National Planning Policy Framework as a whole.  The development would contribute towards the supply of housing - both market and affordable – to help meet the objectively assessed need of the area and, overall, Officers had afforded this significant weight.  It was noted there would also be social and economic benefits from the development, if permitted, including during the construction process.  Nevertheless, there were harms arising from the conflict with development plan policies as well as landscape harm by reason of encroachment into the open countryside; however, Officers considered this to be moderate and there was potential to further minimise landscape harm through an appropriate landscaping scheme at the reserved matters stage.  Overall, taking into account all of the material considerations and the weight to be attributed to each one, it was considered that identified harms would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits of the proposal and it was therefore recommended that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application, subject to any additional/amended planning conditions and the completion of Section 106 Agreements.

66.4          The Chair invited a representative from Maisemore Parish Council to address the Committee.  The Parish Council representative advised that housing allocation in Maisemore had been a contentious subject for many years – 10 years ago the initial housing allocation was minor infilling with 20 houses projected over 20 years but then had come the deluge.  Tewkesbury Borough Council’s inability to demonstrate a five year housing land supply had been devastating for small communities such as this.  In the Parish Council’s view, Maisemore had been wrongly designated as a Service Village, largely on account of its proximity to Gloucester; however, it did not have the sort of services a community might expect to have.  The Parish Council accepted Maisemore had two business parks providing some employment – though often specialised – it had a church desperately clinging onto life with an elderly congregation, and a village hall but, crucially, Maisemore had no shop, school, doctor’s surgery or post office and there were no active social groups for young or elderly people apart from meals and drinks at the local pub, of which there was now only one with The Rising Sun having been redeveloped for housing.  As such, everyone had to travel to find facilities for daily life which meant using cars; there were two bus services but neither ran on Sundays and, when the one to Hartpury College stopped running outside of term time, there were no buses in the evenings either.  More cars equated to more traffic which was a particular problem every time the A417 flooded, cutting Maisemore off from direct travel to Gloucester – something which seemed to be happening more and more.  Compounding this were frequent power cuts, generally owing to falling trees taking down the antiquated overground supplies, as well as constant drain surcharging at times of heavy rain with raw sewage bursting out onto the main road in front of the pub.  Maisemore Parish Council had been pleading with Severn Trent Water for over 15 years to sort this out but had been ignored with the response being that there were no restrictions connecting new housing estates onto the already overloaded drainage system.  The Parish Council representative indicated that Officers had calculated that, if the project was permitted and built, the amount of housing in the main settlement of Maisemore would have increased by nearly 50% since 2011 and he asked Members to imagine that happening in the place they lived.  Such development was clearly not sustainable in the absence of the basic requirements of daily life and the Parish Council requested that the application be refused.

66.5          The Chair invited the applicant’s representative to address the Committee.  The applicant’s representative indicated that the proposal provided very significant benefits to the village, and Tewkesbury Borough, as around 50% of the homes would be affordable, new trees and planting would provide a strong landscaped edge to the entrance of the village and a new public footpath was being created.  The homes aligned with the existing settlement boundary and did not protrude into the open countryside with the development set back from the road.  The applicant had worked closely with Officers to improve the landscaping and the extensive new planting and open spaces would create a soft edge to Maisemore that, with the new homes next door, did not currently exist.  Planning Officers agreed that this resulted in only localised views and the applicant would argue that the soft edge was an improvement to this part of the village.  The accompanying design principles of the outline application had been agreed with Officers and would ensure the reserved matters application was of high quality and respected the characteristics of Maisemore.  The scheme before Members was significantly smaller than the previously refused application and sought to integrate urgently needed new homes, and affordable homes, within the community.  The scheme would benefit the community by contributing to the affordability of homes and providing critical mass that would support local services, including bus services from near the development, a community centre etc.  The applicant had ensured it was well connected without having to drive and a new link between the development and the footpaths to the north and south would benefit the community and avoid pedestrians having to use Old Road, which did not have a footway.  Section 106 contributions would ensure that provision of services, such as education, library, recycling and children’s play equipment, matched demand.  In conclusion, the applicant’s representative indicated that the benefits from the affordable homes – well over policy minimum – and market homes, together with the new footpath, community infrastructure and landscape mitigations were significant and the development would be a proportional extension to the village.  As such, he urged Members to permit the application in line with the Officer recommendation.

66.6          The Chair indicated that the Officer recommendation was to delegate authority to the Development Manager to permit the application, subject to any additional/amended planning conditions and the completion of Section 106 Agreements, and he sought a motion from the floor.  A Member asked when the last housing needs survey had been conducted for Maisemore which would state the amount of affordable housing that was required for the village.  The Planning Officer indicated that he did not know when the last survey was undertaken but the applicant was proposing 40-50% affordable housing which was above the Joint Core Strategy policy requirement.  The Member raised concern that other villages within the borough had been subject to housing needs surveys and this would be a way of establishing if the houses were actually needed in the village.  She also asked whether the affordable houses would actually be socially rented properties.  The Planning Officer clarified this was not being promoted as a rural exception site so there was no clause requiring that the social rented houses had to go to local people from Maisemore, as such, the houses could theoretically meet need across the borough.  In response to a further query about the housing supply figures, the Planning Officer confirmed that the site was not within a strategic allocation, therefore the development would count towards Tewkesbury Borough Council’s housing land supply.  A Member drew attention to Page No. 70, Paragraph 7.53 of the Committee report, which stated that the applicant had indicated a willingness to enter into a legal agreement to secure the affordable housing provision; however, at this stage there was no such agreement in place - she asked if that was still the case and how Members could be reassured that would be delivered.  In response, the Planning Officer confirmed that the applicant had expressed a willingness to enter into all Section 106 Agreements requested but was waiting for the Committee’s determination before continuing with those agreements.  The Member asked whether the applicant would be able to go back on the proportion of social rented housing that would be provided within the development and was advised that the applicant had offered exactly what the Council’s Strategic Housing and Enabling Officer had requested in terms of the mix of houses and number of units and, should Members be minded to go along with the Officer recommendation for delegated permission, this would be subject to the completion of Section 106 Agreements in accordance with the specifications within the Committee report.  A Member asked if any information could be provided by the Planning Officer in respect of the impact of the additional houses on the sewerage capacity in the area and was informed that Severn Trent Water had been consulted on the application as the statutory provider of foul drainage facilities and had raised no objection subject to the inclusion of conditions. 

66.7          It was proposed and seconded that authority be delegated to the Development Manager to permit the application in accordance with the Officer recommendation.  The proposer of the motion indicated that she had studied the Committee report extensively but could find no sound reason to refuse the application given the Council’s inability to demonstrate a five year housing land supply.  A Member asked if there was an established trajectory for delivery of the site and was advised this was an outline application so it was largely in the hands of the applicant; however, condition 2 required submission of reserved matters within three years of outline planning permission being granted.  The Member raised concern that, if permitted, this scheme would have no impact on the Council’s housing land supply position in the short term.  He assumed the reserved matters application would require a Committee determination when submitted and asked that up-to-date information be provided in relation to housing need and sewerage – he felt it was important to take on board the points raised by the Parish Council and do everything possible to remedy those concerns.  He also asked that DC electric vehicle charging points be considered along with solar energy and the number of parking spaces provided given the limited bus service.  He felt a local lettings policy would be beneficial to give local people the opportunity to take advantage of social rented housing.  The Planning Officer noted these requests and indicated that they could be discussed during Section 106 negotiations but the applicant could not be compelled to provide them.  Whilst the site was not being promoted as a rural exception site, that was something which could be explored, should that be the will of the Committee.  The Chair indicated that he had huge sympathy with the local residents but he did not feel that looking into these matters after planning permission had been granted would be of any use.

66.8          Upon being put to the vote, it was

RESOLVED           That authority be DELEGATED to the Development Manager to PERMIT the application, subject to any additional/amended planning conditions and the completion of Section 106 Agreements, in accordance with the Officer recommendation.

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